The 24-year-old Kei Nishikori seized his fifth career trophy by succeeding the defending champion and eight-time title holder Rafael Nadal on the Barcelona Open throne after crushing a surprise finalist Santiago Giraldo, currently ranked 65th, in the Catalan capital this Sunday. In the yesterday’s semi-final the unseeded Colombian prevailed over sixth-seeded Almagro who shocked the king of clay in the round of eight at the World Tour 500 tournament. The fourth seed Japanese has improved the head-to-head lead over the 26-year-old Giraldo to 5-1.
The latter enjoyed a relatively bright start to the title clash as he held the opening serve and turned in the break point number one to move 2-0 ahead, yet his dominance was short lived – the top Asian player surged back to pull off an unstoppable run by clinching three consecutive breaks and serve out the opener straight away.
The demoralized Colombian never looked like he could recover from Nishikori’s stunning comeback as the Japanese stretched further away in early stages of the second set. He consolidated the first-game break for a 2-0 advantage which was extended several minutes later when Giraldo suffered another loss of serve. The favorite got hold of a triple championship point in the eighth game and converted in the third attempt to lift his second trophy of the year – he was victorious in Memphis in February – with a 6-2, 6-2 clay-court triumph at the oldest Spanish tennis club. Both finalists fired a couple of aces with the Colombian – who is yet to secure an ATP title – also conceding five double faults. He saved only two of seven break points he had faced over the course of the 74-minute long encounter.
Nishikori received €422,100 alongside with 500 ATP Points and will be holding the 12th spot in the ATP Rankings as of next week.